27 April, 2011
Prince Harry, T-Mobile and Finding the Rebel in Regal
When I first heard about the engagement between Prince Will and Kate Middleton my reaction was “weren’t they engaged already?!” This response was in part a reflection upon my terrible attention to detail (I work in PR and read all the newspapers including the Daily Express every day, so there’s no excuse for being out of the Royal loop) but as well as this, I was always totally indifferent to anything going down in the Palace. As far as I am concerned, the Royal Family are like the ornaments in your grandparent’s house – well kept, inoffensive and nice to have on show, but if you take them away no bricks are going to fall down and no one is likely to miss them.
I have no active disrespect towards the Royals, not least since my History teacher at school adorned his classroom high and low with pictures of various Royal Family members, dressed twee in tweed jackets like he thought he might be invited to a Royal gathering at any moment and would rant daily that we “must respect the monarchy!”, drilling the concept into us in his *put-on* posh southern tones. After dealing with that for 5 years, there was no way I could have sustained any insolence towards our regal friends, for fear of being kept in detention if I dared chew gum in front of Prince Charles’ portrait. Yet despite Mr South’s best attempts, I have never really taken an interest in the Royal clan, apart from when my sister did the Queen’s wave at passing vehicles out of the window of my Dad’s car, as we hurled down the M25 every Saturday.
In the run up to the Royal Wedding, since that unsurprising engagement in 2010, I have continued mainly to look the other way. Though as the day has drawn closer it has become harder to avoid – it is unlikely you’ll find a page of media print that hasn’t been defaced by the happy couple, an increasing amount of bizarre Royal Wedding memorabilia has gone on sale and a startling number of the general public are finding Kate’s face in a baked bean or Will’s silhouette on a tree stump (the joys of having to read The Sun). Everybody it seems wants a piece, everybody but me?
Prince Harry and the Royal Blues
My main interest in the Windsor family has only ever been in that unruly Prince Harry. The one who hasn’t got his life mapped out and seemingly isn’t afraid to live outside the Royal Box. If anything, he’s dangling over the edge of it, clutching for reality, like a child reaching for the monkeys through the cages at the zoo. For me, Harry is an almost tangible member of a family who otherwise live so far removed from our own experiences they might as well be gnomes.
When Princess Diana died I wanted to hug him, mainly because he was the smaller of the 2 boys, but also his ginger-ness was clear for all to see – this lad was never going to be able to get away with anything less than Factor 35, destined to a life under a parasol. Years later, when Harry was forced to return home from the army, unable to serve his country in Afghanistan due to his high-value/high-risk status, I wanted to hug him again. This time partly because he was demonstrating a muscular physique no-one ever expected him to achieve (is it a divine right of Prince’s that they shall go forth and blossom into a ripped Adonis?) but also because I felt for him and his inability to live out his passions. I have always thought that although being, ya know, a Prince admittedly has its advantages – they inherit a pretty good estate/royal wedge with their Grandma’s face on it, the Queen’s got their back and they have a tool for wooing women that other men only ever see in Disney – at the same time the Prince’s pay a price they didn’t choose, every day of their lives.
Both William and Harry are bound by their duties every single day, are forever isolated from the rest of their generation and will never, ever, ever be just common Eton lads. While Will has succumbed to this life and finds himself about to marry one bang-tidy lady and the people’s actual Princess (no that isn’t you Cheryl Cole), Harry seems to be struggling more with the Royal chains.
When my friend met Harry on a night out in London a few years ago, she told him off for smoking, because she felt he was doing his role as a role model a huge injustice. That probably pissed him off royally and forced him to check in with his conscience that night, something that doubtless happens to him a fair bit. So when in 2005 Harry got into trouble for donning a Nazi uniform on a fancy dress night out with his mates (2 weeks before the Queen was due to lead the UK’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations #FAIL) I felt all the more sorry for him and slightly wanted to applaud him. Yes it was a careless, insensitive act of rebellion and his PR team had a nightmare on their hands, but suddenly Harry was relatable, fun and a little bit risqué. This was a Royal male I could get on board with. It’s a while since I have believed in Princes, but since then I have believed in Harry, not least because he is now my last chance to be a princess and thus restore my faith in Aladdin.
Conforming by Rebellion
Akin to the time I have for Prince Harry, my interest in the Royal Wedding was always going to be minimal until it showed me something I could relate to. Despite my eagerness to see Harry rock up to the service stoned, my initial impression of the whole affair was of long boring ceremonies, Kate being put on an unrealistic pedestal never to be taken down, forced patriotism and news story after news story after news story. My heart said “whatever” and my mouth followed suit. Yet to my surprise, although for me this sentiment still reigns, from the moment I heard “national bank holiday” and read Cosmo’s feature on how to get Kate’s face, Kate’s body AND Kate’s style (err, okay then) I kind of discovered a Royal Wedding I could get involved in and finally gave it a tiny second thought. Like a child bribed by sweets, suddenly Kate & Wills had my attention, ever so slightly.
I have gradually departed from my original values and admittedly have found myself wondering what Kate’s dress will look like. Uh-oh! I have bookmarked a “Royal Wedding Drinking Game” in Glamour (drink one finger for every metre of Kate’s train, down a shot every time Prince Phillip looks like he might be thinking something racist, have a sherry every time you spot the queen etc). I have actually considered going to various Royal Wedding themed BBQ’s and parties, something that up until a few weeks ago I was adamant I would NOT because it was boring, hypocritical and I had better things to do. But drinking games and bunting? I never was one to turn down a party…
In part the slight collapse of my principles can be blamed on the gradual erosion of any resilience by the relentless press and the endless Royal Wedding Facebook and Twitter updates , but it can also be put down to the fact I finally found some down-to-earth entertainment in the affair. No I am not patriotic and really I don’t think my life will change at all for the fact we have a new Princess in our midst’s, but fun is my weakness and if this royal union means an extra day off work, free BBQ chicken and a new reason to have a cocktail, then who am I to snub it?
My full conversion came at the weekend when this T-Mobile viral leaked online and the occasion I had initially deemed to be totally dull and irrelevant to me and mine, suddenly took a turn for the amusing.
Much like my interest in Harry, my curiosity regarding the wedding this Friday was only realised when I eventually found in it something fun, relatable and a little bit rebellious.
I may not watch the wedding this Friday with my British flag spice girls dress on and God Save the Queen playing on a loop in the next room, but I’m more than happy to raise a glass to the happy couple the night before, take that free day off work thank you Queenie and scan the crowd of attendees, commenting on their hats and hoping to see Harry staggering in late, with the ring stuck somewhere awful. Royal Cheers.